To perform. To endure. To get to the finish line, official or unofficial, feeling like you absolutely crushed it and looked great while doing it. Style is more than what you ride: It’s how you choose to express yourself while on the ride.
Fashion and function in cycling go hand in hand. Showing up to the Saturday group with the proper logos and color combinations can have others shaking in their cycling shoes, even if it’s your first time out for a ride in years. Some folks may love this attention and others may not, but many of cycling’s style rules exist for a greater purpose: They function to make us safer, faster, more efficient, and more comfortable. Take some of these guidelines into account when you get ready for your next roll around town. We’ll start with your cranium and work down to your feet!
Be sure to choose something lightweight with plenty of ventilation. This is Texas, after all. What’s foremost in your helmet selection is making sure that it meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards (there will be a sticker on the inside if it does).
Fashion: This is not the place where you want to save your pennies. Get a high-end quality helmet. Weight and ventilation make a huge difference on those longer rides. Go neutral on the color; that way, you can make your fashion statements with jerseys and shorts. And socks. And gloves. And, well, you get it.
Function: It’s got to be cool; it’s got to be light; it’s got to be safe. And, it has to fit. Many of the newer helmets have fine adjustments knobs that ensure the helmet fits completely snug. And, as a bonus, those knobs allow you to wear a cap on cooler days without having to buy a new lid. For more information about helmets, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (helmets.org/guide.htm)
Wear them over, not under, your helmet straps.
Fashion: Style, style, style! Make your fellow cyclists do a double take here. Most brands now have multiple lenses available, so your look can be constantly varied. If you want to put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence, try one of the custom color programs that many sunglass companies offer.
Function: Tucking the arms under your helmet straps can push the earpieces into the sides of your head, creating unwanted pressure. Wearing your shades over your straps allows you to quickly and easily pop them off or prop them up on your helmet if they get fogged or splattered with some bodily fluids (preferably your own). If you choose to invest, you can get prescription lenses made for many sports sunglasses, which allow you to look good and see well at the same time.
Sport them form fitting, not ill fitting.
Fashion: Triathletes rock them! Roadies prefer a short with built-in overalls, aka bibs. It may sound crazy, but we love bibs!
Function: High-tech cycling clothing is designed to breathe, wick moisture, and feel comfortable against your body. If it’s flapping in the breeze, it’s not serving its purpose. You also want to make sure that your clothing is not too tight. You need to be able to breathe!
Having a full kit is like wearing cuff links with your suit.
Fashion: A kit is made up of a jersey and bibs (see “cycling shorts,” above). Both pieces should be made by the same company and come from the same product line. Don’t show up to the party with a jersey and bibs that do not match!
Function: To ride like a pro, you should feel and look like one. A full kit will fit tight to the body and is designed to work and flow together in aggressive riding positions. Jerseys will have three pockets in the back, allowing you to stuff them with all of your goods. The bib design will make your riding experience a total nirvana. Face it—other than your hands, it’s the only part of your body guaranteed to contact the bike for 99.9 percent of the ride. Don’t be afraid to spend.
Whether you’re racing, training, or heading out for epic rides, you want to be fast, efficient, and comfortable.
Fashion: Go on and pick your favorite. Bet you can’t choose just one—color, that is. But, seriously, if you don’t already shave your legs and ride faster than 20 miles per hour, stick to basics and buy black shoes.
Function: Road shoes are designed to deliver all your power to the pedal with no sacrifice in comfort. A full carbon sole is the only way to go.
Looking good makes you feel good, so enjoy the ride—and look good while doing it.